UR Medicine’s Eastman Institute for Oral Health today presented a new, custom designed SMILEmobile that provides first-of-its-kind access to people with special needs, including older adults, people with developmental disabilities and other medically complex conditions.
The new unit is a self-contained, drivable, wheelchair-accessible dental clinic, unlike Eastman Institute’s three other SMILEmobiles, which are trailers transported to city schools to provide treatment to children. The new unit provides special services for adults, in addition to cleanings, x-rays, fillings, sealants, extractions and oral health education.
The Lobozzo Family Advised Fund of the United Way of Greater Rochester donated the major funding to build the unit. Joseph M. Lobozzo II, local businessman and founder of JML Optical, said he and his family are excited about reaching hundreds of Rochester area residents whose oral health care needs often go unmet because of various challenges, including lack of transportation and few providers who are able to treat patients confined to wheelchairs.
“This new SMILEmobile gives immediate access to a myriad of agencies, group homes, and special needs centers,” Lobozzo said. “Such accessibility has never been offered in Rochester and is rare in other communities.”
“We are deeply grateful to Mr. Lobozzo and his family for their generosity and heartfelt desire to help those in need,” said Eli Eliav, D.M.D., Ph.D., director of Eastman Institute for Oral Health. “Oral health care is the number one unmet health need among people with special needs. His gift will allow Eastman specialists to reach these patients in an unprecedented fashion, as well as to train the next generation of providers.”
The new SMILEmobile will be one of the sites to train more than 100 pediatric and general dentists, hygienists and dental assistants in treating patients with special and complex needs, as part of a $3.5 million U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant awarded last year.
“Providing dental services in a state-of-the-art mobile office for extensive care as well as for dental hygiene is a tremendous advantage for older adults,” said Kathy Grimes, LNHA, CASP, administrator for The Living Center at Highlands at Pittsford. “For some residents, a trip to an outside dental office can be long, uncomfortable, and anxiety provoking. It is exciting for us to offer resident-centered dental care though this great innovation from Eastman Dental.”
Some special features of the unit include a wheelchair lift, wider doors, and an air glide chair that allows more maneuverability for the wheelchair-bound patient to enter the unit and be transferred to the air glide chair for treatment or stay in his or her own wheelchair.
Like many parents of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Barbara Burdette experienced difficulty finding a dentist who would treat her daughter Rebekah.
“Eastman Dental quickly got her the help she needed,” she said. “They have helped relieve my frustrations from a dental perspective because I know Rebekah has access to care. As a family, we are forever grateful for Eastman Dental for the wonderful, patient and respectful care they have given Rebekah.”